Parent’s Ultimate Guide to Fine Motor Skills

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August 23, 2022
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Parent’s Ultimate Guide to Fine Motor Skills

Fine motor skills

Introduction to fine motor skills.

Children’s everyday activities require the application of fine motor skills and abilities. Skills such as dressing, opening a lunchbox or using a pencil. These abilities, which require a coordinated effort between their hands, fingers, and eyes, begin by grasping a rattle or gripping fingers that rake as young children and then progress into more advanced skills such as cutting with scissors, using computers with a mouse, and playing an instrument. Discover why these skills are crucial and how you can aid your child in developing these abilities.

What are Fine Motor Skills?

Fine motor skills are the coordination of your child’s smaller muscles, such as those in their wrists, hands, and fingers, and with their eyes. Fine motor skills include the muscles in the smaller regions of the body, which perform the writing process by grasping small objects, and toys and fixing clothing.

Fine motor skills development requires the strength of fine motor control and dexterity.

These skills are essential for most classes and in life all around. The lack of fine motor skills may hinder a child’s ability to consume food, write clearly and legibly, use a computer and flip pages in a book, and carry out chores of personal care, like dressing and grooming.

The Milestones of Fine Motor Skills

While children grow at various paces and have different developmental milestones, knowing the approximate time they attain certain milestones helps determine whether your child is developing at a steady pace. Below are some guidelines to help with fine motor development.

From Birth to 1 Year

In the first year of your baby’s life, they’ll acquire various fine motor abilities. For instance, a baby typically holds a hand that isn’t very strong, and by two months of age, they can hold a rattle held in their hand.

When they reach 6 months, the baby can usually hold a single block with two hands and shake the rattle. When they reach 9 months old, most babies exhibit the raking pincer grasp. By 12 months old, they’ve perfected the pincer grasp and can hold a bottle and drop the block into the cup.

Between 1 to 2 Years

At 18 months, young children can put various shapes into toys and stack up at least three or four cups. They also need to feed themselves using their fingers and draw with the crayon they hold in their fist. When they reach the age of 2 years, the average toddler can copy vertical lines, use a spoon, or stack up six cups. They also begin to master the art of helping dress themselves.

Between 2 and 3 Years

In the period between their 2nd and 3rd birthday, children are beginning to learn to draw circles and mimic a horizontal line. They can also drink with a fork and spoon in an empty cup. The kids of this age can also take off their clothes, shoes, and socks.

Between 3 to 4 Years

As preschoolers get closer to their fourth birthdays, they are honed in on their drawing abilities. They should be able to duplicate a cross and draw a two to four-part figure. They are also learning to cut paper and dress, although they might be unable to button buttons.

Between 4 and 5 Years

Age of 5 years, if the child is five years old, they will be able to draw the square and a 10-part person. They should also be better at holding a pencil on the tripod and drawing between lines. Children of this age must be competent at washing and drying their hands thoroughly.

How do Fine Motor Skills Develop?

Your child’s fine motor skills will develop through everyday activities and playtime by engaging in activities that require grasping, pressing, and holding. They will also develop the pincer grasp first by feeding, playing, and dressing.

As your child develops as they get older and fine motor abilities to improve as they get older, they’ll be able to move to more advanced capabilities. For example, they’ll be able to the art of tying their shoes, pushing buttons, cutting with cutters, typing their names, or removing and sealing plastic bags and putting a straw into the juice container, and then taking their lunch box out.

If you suspect your child lags behind or is not meeting milestones, you should speak with your child’s doctor.

They will evaluate your child’s development and provide suggestions on actions you can take at home to improve the fine motor skills of your child. They can also send you to specialists if required.

Activities to Develop Fine Motor Skill

If you want to help your child to develop their fine motor abilities, you don’t need to spend a lot of money or purchase expensive toys. Many children can learn and enhance their fine motor capabilities with games and other everyday activities.

For example, you could ask your child to assist in the kitchen by making cookies, setting the table, and pouring the milk they make themselves. Also, allow them to practice fine motor skills with tweezers for picking things up or practicing putting rubber bands around cups. Here are some additional ways to work on mastering fine motor abilities at home.

Play and use Dough

Fine motor skills

Tactile play with good old favorite materials like play-dough is a great way for kids to experiment and build fine motor skills. To make this even more interesting you could make the play-dough with your child first before they play with it.

Play Puzzles

Do puzzles together. Picking up and moving puzzle pieces into place helps develop a pincer grasp. 

Watching or helping your child learn how to complete a puzzle can sometimes be frustrating, they can be impatient and give up easily, lose pieces or put them in their mouth. But if you stick with it the rewards are worth it. Engage with and encourage your child as much as you can to complete easy puzzles at first and then progressively harder ones, doing this will improve their hand-eye skills, coordination, and motor skills.

Drawing, coloring, and painting

Fine motor skills

Encourage your child to draw and paint. This helps not only their fine motor skills but also creativity and imagination too. Try different types of painting and different mediums, like crayons, chalk, finger paints, brush painting, or charcoal, to spark their interest and strengthen your child’s hand-eye coordination. Painting with a paintbrush helps kids learn to hold a brush and gain greater control using things in their hands including pencils and other items.

Using kitchen tongs or tweezers

Create a game for kids can using a small pair of kitchen tongs or tweezers to pick up some small objects like sultanas, grapes, pasta, and buttons, coins into a bowl.

Cutting with scissors

Fine motor skills

Using scissors is a great way to strengthen fine motor skills as well as improve hand-eye coordination and concentration. You can draw shapes for your child to cut around. Make some paper snowflakes. Even cut play-dough. Make sure you use age-appropriate scissors.

Sand play

Fine motor skills

Like bath time play, using cups to fill and pour and out is fantastic fun and also encourages sensory development. Scoop and dig with spoons. Use moulds. Draw pictures and build things. If you’re inside, magic or kinetic sand is a great alternative.

Build with blocks and Lego

Fine motor skills

Stack, connect, and build things together with blocks and Lego. These activities encourage fine pushing and pulling movements. Lego is also great for fostering creativity. Building with LEGO is an effective way to work and develop your child’s fine motor skills. As children build and even pick up LEGO pieces they will, build stronger muscles in their hands and improve coordination, this will help them to improve with other skills, such as learning to hold a pencil and learning to write.

Other skills children can learn from playing with Lego include persistence, a sense of accomplishment, and an improved ability to solve puzzles.

Toys and Games

Fine motor skills

A wide variety of toys help develop fine motor skills, especially for toddlers and infants. For kids of the school age, puzzles and board games with parts and pieces to move and pick up can be a great way to develop these abilities. For example, Jenga is a strategy game that requires fine motor skills, which focus on the grip of the pincher required for writing.

Remote-controlled cars are ideal for preschoolers and elementary school children. Video games are also beneficial but beware of carpal tunnel syndrome. Verify the ratings for the games you play to ensure they’re appropriate for your child.

Issues with Fine Motor Skills

There are a few indications that your child could have issues in fine motor skills, such as frequent dropping of objects or having trouble holding a spoon or cutting or writing. As your child grows older and unable to put their shoe on may suggest an issue. To identify if your child has problems with their fine motor development, you should seek a doctor’s evaluation if you suspect an issue.

Suppose your child has been identified as having a problem with their fine motor skills that could affect their learning Talk about your concerns to your child’s teacher. If your child has an individual educational plan (IEP), you can discuss your concerns with the IEP team.

Your child’s team will use the assessments of therapists and other evaluation data to decide if your child needs regular therapy or a similar service. If your child is required to receive specifically created instruction therapy, these services will be incorporated into the IEP.

In a nutshell.

In learning about fine motor skills, most of your child’s growth occurs naturally as they develop and play. However, you can help your children develop these abilities by selecting games, toys, and games that aid in developing fine motor skills.

If you observe some slowdowns or think your child is having difficulty learning or acquiring these skills, speak to your pediatrician. Early detection and intervention are crucial in getting your child the necessary help.

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It can be difficult to teach young children to brush their own teeth, especially to get them to brush properly, but doing so will help them find motor skill development.  Click here to learn 10 ways to improve your child’s teeth hygiene and improve their teeth brushing competency.

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